Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A very brief review of the revival of 'Fences' by August Wilson

It's great! Denzel is great! Viola Davis is great! Go see it!

(Longer review forthcoming.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Go back to Galway

While we're catching up: I reviewed Martin McDonagh's new play, A Behanding in Spokane, for Commonweal last month. It took me this long to mention it here because (a) the review is subscribers-only online, and (b) the play was a big fat disappointment. Most of what I wrote is an introduction to McDonagh, whose Irish plays I love and admire. (Did you know online-only subscriptions to Commonweal are just $29?) Here's a sample of what I had to say about Behanding:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Time to start getting the nets out

I always assumed that Anyone Can Whistle made some kind of sense. I knew it was whimsical and wacky and all that, but I figured, if I saw the whole thing intact, it would have some discernible throughline. Not so much, as it turns out!

This is too bad for me, because I've been staging imaginary productions of Anyone Can Whistle in my head for years, based on the 1994 Carnegie Hall concert version starring Madeline Kahn, Scott Bakula and Bernadette Peters. I was excited when I found out the show was slated for Encores! in this, the Year of Sondheim: at last I would see the whole show, book intact, and at last I would know what goes between the songs to hold the whole nutty thing together. But unless the version I saw at City Center was seriously truncated (and it sure didn't seem edited), the fact is, the book isn't so much quirky or cutting-edge or experimental as it is half-assed and terrible. (The reviews I saw tiptoed around saying that outright: another case of Arthur Laurents getting off the hook?) The show makes even less sense than it did when I had only the recording to work with. Who knew.

So there's no way to make Anyone Can Whistle "work." I was still surprised that Casey Nicholaw -- whose Follies for Encores! I admired very much -- didn't come a little closer.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Triduum!

My wonderful friend Stephen is the brains behind The Lazy Scholar, a blog that explores and exposes the Internet's many archival treasures. He was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post for Easter, and you can read the results right here. Consider it an early Easter-egg hunt.

Image: "Best Easter Wishes," Newton Owen Postcard Collection, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky.